GWADS Promotional Award

2020 Award Submissions
Social Media Marketing

1st Place Winner

San Francisco Chronicle

City: San Francisco, CA
Daily audited circulation size: 173,514
Sunday audited circulation size: 210,468


Create a paid social digital advertising program that leverages the strength of local journalism and smart audience targeting to increase digital subscription volume.


We ran numerous integrated Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns, where we took our top-performing content and served it to non-subscribers who had visited with a 1-3 visit frequency. Our intention was to provide the highest value content, including categories such as tracking critical COVID updates, in order to demonstrate the importance of a subscription from a trusted local source. Many subscribe directly from this step. For those who do not subscribe, we then serve direct offers to users who continue to engage with content via our content ads. We first serve generic brand reinforcing ads with a call to subscribe only to those who are highly engaged. Then, in limited pushes, we run a special sales offer that is part of a broader campaign. Finally, if someone visits an offer or checkout page, we then retarget these groups with a last-chance offer. We are able to do all of this without an overwhelming frequency of ads because we understand the funnel of engagement toward a subscription and use that to target users based on their behavior.


The combination of all of these digital ad tactics has led to a significant lift in digital subscriptions through paid channels. For the month of April 2020, we generated 2,040,000 impressions and 34,803 clicks, leading to these campaigns driving 528 subscriptions. All results are measured through our attribution model that allows us to compare results across many different channels and better understand ROI by accounting for the customer journey.

2rnd Place Winner

Idaho Statesman

City: Boise, ID
Daily audited circulation size: 29,985
Sunday audited circulation size: 51,065


Our goal was to determine if engaging with new digital subscribers via sponsored posts on Facebook would improve short term retention. In the end, this should help to improve their engagement with our site and long term retention as well.


We partnered with SocialFlow to manage the sponsored post campaign for us. We sent the last 30 days of digital starts and stops to them and then a weekly file was passed with this data. SocialFlow used their knowledge of what posts performed best in terms of engagement from our newsroom and then sponsored these to the new starts.


The initial results were impressive. After 30 days, we saw a churn improvement of 4.75 percentage points after the test compared to prior. However, at 45 days, we saw over triple that with a 14.36 percentage point lift. We continue to run the campaign and expect to see this improvement as we move through the year.


Your membership goes to support this nonprofit organization committed to continuing education and sharing of ideas. Members get preferred rates at events, the opportunity to network, learn revenue-generating strategies, and stay in the forefront of ongoing digital engagement. The Board of Directors look forward to your participation and support in advancing our audience development program.

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